Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Donovan Mitchell drops 45, sparks Jazz comeback after slow start in close Game 1 win over Clippers

An entertaining back-and-forth Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Utah Jazz and LA Clippers went down to the final possession.

The Clippers elected to not call a timeout but the hosts kept their composure and got a stop on the final possession, courtesy of some stellar defence by Rudy Gobert.

The Jazz come away with the 112-109 victory, despite trailing by as many as 13 early in the third quarter. Four Utah players scored in double figures, led by Donovan Mitchell, as they take a 1-0 series lead despite starting point guard Mike Conley Jr. not suiting up for this one.

Here's a quick look at the takeaways.

Mitchell outduels Clippers superstar duo

With no Mike Conley and his teammates having a rough shooting night in general, it was going to be difficult for the Jazz to have one of those games where they have six or seven score in double digits.

So, Mitchell nearly picked up the slack by himself. Going off for 45, he single-handedly outscored the Clippers All-Star duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Leonard, coming off a seven-game series where he averaged 32.1 points on 61.2 percent shooting from the field, only finished with 23 on 9-of-19 shooting, while George had a rough outing as he finished with 20 points but could only knock down four of his 17 field goal attempts.

The duo were two of four Clippers in double figures with Luke Kennard scoring 18 and Ivica Zubac adding 11 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three blocks.

Mitchell sparks comeback in 3rd

Mitchell came out of the locker room at intermission like the first half didn't happen. After scoring 13 in the first half on 5-of-14 shooting, he erupted right out of the gates in the second half.

He went on a personal 10-2 run to open the third quarter to ensure this game didn't get out of hand.

The Jazz All-Star was receiving guidance from the sidelines in the form of the franchise's new minority owner in Dwyane Wade.

He scored 16 in the period and was responsible for 18 of the team's first 25 points in the third. During his eight minutes on the floor in the period, the Jazz outscored the Clippers by 14.

Overall, the Jazz outscored the Clippers 32-19 to tie things up heading into the fourth quarter.

Clippers lead early courtesy of Jazz's misses

While the Clippers suited up for Game 1, just a day after eliminating the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7, the Jazz were taking the floor after almost a week off.

So, some rust was expected as Utah started the game by missing 23 of their 28 field goal attempts in the first quarter including 20 straight. That slow start had the hosts down 25-18 after the first 12 minutes and 60-47 at halftime.

They were down by 13 despite Kawhi Leonard having a quiet seven-point first half and that's because the Clippers reserves stepped up.

Led by Luke Kennard's 11 points (4-5 FGs; 3-4 3Ps), equalling the first-half tally by the Jazz bench, the visitors' second unit combined for 27 of the team's first-half total.

After no minutes in the first round, DeMarcus Cousins checked into this game and made an instant impact as he finished with six points and three rebounds in four minutes of action in the first half.

What's next?

The Jazz will look to take care of home court and take a 2-0 series lead when both teams suit up once again after just a day off for Game 2, which is slated for Thursday, June 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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